It’s been an interesting if not alarming week.
There have been appointments; dentist, optometrist, orthodontist and a mammogram. All of that was nothing out of the ordinary. The thing that took the cake this week was a lecture given by Rob Nickel, an internet safety expert who worked undercover with the O.P.P. for many years. His area of expertise is child pornography, pedophilia and the internet. Anyone out there feel like being scared witless? I know just the lecture for you to hear.
I did come away with some important tips as well as a general feeling of nausea. Some of these tips may be basic to many of you, but they are good to hear again anyway:
Make sure that you and your children do not advertise that you will be away from your home on vacation on your Facebook accounts. Don’t count the sleeps to that family getaway. This is an invitation to thieves.
Make sure that your children (obviously not older teens and young adults) have their Facebook privacy settings set to Friends Only. This needs to be checked monthly as it will automatically default back to something else. A predator can use the internet to locate your child in a matter of minutes. By the way, they use chat rooms and help educate one another.
Any photo taken on a cell phone contains the GPS location of where that photo was taken. So, any pictures that your kids take at home and send out to their friends and who knows who else will contain the GPS co-ordinates of your home. Once it’s out there it can end up anywhere, you just don’t know.
Allowing your kids to take their computers into their bedrooms greatly increases their risk of being cyber bullied without you knowing about it. It also increases the risk that they could be bullying (possibly inadvertently) without your knowing.
Be sure that you and your kids enable the passcode on your cell phones. Without the passcode enabled someone can gain access to the cell phone and listen to what is being said through it, even if the phone is turned off.
Computers need to have a virus scanner to protect against Trojans.
I know that this sounds very alarmist and George Orwellian but he backed up everything he said with examples and cases.
So, once again I was yearning for the simpler times of the 1950’s. Not to say that there weren’t bad things going on then and not to say that the internet is all bad, but false or not I was missing the innocence. 1950 sounded good, the changes since then, not so good.
I went home and had a discussion with my kids. They of course think that they’re very savvy and that I’m the uninformed one. I’m not so sure. I still think that they may be somewhat naive. They got to hear Rob Nickel speak to them at school although he did temper some of what he had to say about the pedophiles so as not scare them.
Two days later in an attempt to recreate a false sense of security I baked brownies for the kids to have as an after school snack. They walked into a home smelling of home baked goodness, warmth and love. For the ten minutes it took for them to hoover their snack I got to live in a world of denial and innocence. We have also changed Facebook privacy settings, encoded phones with pass codes and discussed some of the evils that lurk out there. Hopefully with a little luck as well as informed kids and parents my children will get to grow up in a safe environment.